Well, Fools, it's time for another irregularly scheduled uranium update. There's a trio of nuclear tidings that I believe merit attention this week.

First off, investor confidence in Kazakhstan is crumbling. The authorities have arrested Mukhtar Dzhakishev, the former head of state uranium company Kazatomprom, just days after his dismissal from the post. Dzhakishev, along with seven of his colleagues, is being held on corruption charges, in part of a broader campaign that smacks of similar corporate purges in neighboring Russia.

The former executive faces charges of illegally selling stakes in uranium deposits to foreign companies. This has serious implications for Uranium One, which was singled out by name, and potentially even for Cameco (NYSE:CCJ), which was not.

Kazakhstan has one of the richest uranium endowments in the world, so political derailments of the near-term production pipeline could certainly do interesting things to the spot price. I don't think Cameco had this turn of events in mind when it recently called the bottom in uranium.

Speaking of Russia, its state exporter, Tenex, just signed a $1 billion low-enriched uranium deal with a group of U.S. utilities including PG&E (NYSE:PCG) and Ameren (NYSE:AEE). This direct supply arrangement marks a departure from past practice, in which USEC (NYSE:USU) was the sole point of entry for Russian imports. The move immediately positions Russia to control some 20% of the U.S. uranium market over the 2014-2020 time period. This assures a continued Russian presence after the megatons-to-megawatts program -- which supplies about half of our civilian nukes with fuel derived from decommissioned warheads -- expires in 2013.

Anyone following the natural gas supply situation in Western Europe probably ought to bristle at excessive reliance on Russia for our uranium imports. In that light, it was pleasing to see that an Australian junior was granted a permit this week to open a new mine in Utah. The permit's believed to be the first granted in the state in about three decades. Permitting has been a drag for other aspiring near-term producers like Ur-Energy (AMEX:URG), so this is a small step in the right direction.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a position in Cameco, and the disclosure policy explains why we're telling you that.